Uprising Shuffling off to Buffalo and Glens Falls, NY
It is rare to find a play written, directed, produced and acted by teens. It is even more rare for such a play to go on tour. For audiences who saw the debut of Uprising, an original play about the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, in Saratoga Springs, NY last June, it is no surprise that other cities are eager to host this play.
Grace Zofia Alberti, now 17, started Ad Astra Theatre Troupe, Ltd., a non-profit corporation, in 2016 to give young actors in the Capital District of New York State the opportunity to be part of an all-teen theatre company. Alberti directed the troupe in Jeremy Bloom’s Peter/Wendy in 2017 (pictured to the left). The show was choreographed, costumed, produced and performed by teens and was attended by audiences totaling almost 400 people. For the 2018 season, Alberti got more ambitious. She decided to write an original script for the troupe to perform.
Inspired by a historical presentation she saw at Latham NY’s Polishfest, Alberti became interested in the role young women played during the Warsaw Uprising. Alberti was encouraged by her friend’s mother, award-winning author, Lâle Davidson, to write something new based on the subject matter. Davidson, who is also a professor at the State University of New York Adirondack campus, signed on as a co-writer. Soon, then-senior at Niskayuna High School, Catie LeCours, joined the group of playwrights. The three authors spent the next six months trading scripts over Google Docs and learning the intricate art of collaboration. Author Sophie Hodorowicz Knab reviewed the script for historic accuracy. Both Alberti and LeCours are of Polish heritage.
Uprising was a labor of love for the entire theatre troupe. High school students, Tess Davidson-Brown and Leora Cohen-Tigor choreographed the show based on research of Polish folkdance and the more contemporary dance moves that would have been popular in pre-WWII Poland. Davidson-Brown also designed the promotional artwork for the show, including an iconic poster in the style of Slavic artist Alphonse Mucha, depicting Poland as a woman, cradling the statue of the Warsaw Mermaid in her hands, surveying the ruins of the city. High school student, Kathleen Rembish, costumed the play. Students also provided the piano, violin, accordion and percussion accompaniment for the debut shows. Behind the scenes, Saratoga High School students, Maggie Farr and Alana Martin provided stage management and production leadership. Alberti directed the show.
Over 600 people attended Uprising’s 3 day run in Saratoga Springs last June, including Instagram fans who traveled from as far away as Pennsylvania to see the show. In the audience was also Mr. Tom Zawadzki, of the Polish Arts Club of Buffalo. After the show, Zawadzki suggested that his organization, partnering with the Permanent Chair of Polish Culture at Canisius College, Mary Lou Wyborek, would like to discuss bringing the show on tour to Buffalo. Also in the audience were representatives of the Park Theater in Glens Falls, NY, who made inquiries about Ad Astra performing Uprising in their recently restored historic venue. In addition to offers to bring the show on tour, the authors of Uprising have received several requests by other theater companies to perform the play. The authors are in the process of incorporating so that they can license performance rights to their show.
Ad Astra is planning another student written play for its third season. Troupe-member and Saratoga High School senior, Padraig Bond, has teamed up with now Skidmore college freshman, Catie LeCours, to adapt the classic, Trojan Women, for the troupe.
Alberti has been involved with some of the character development for new piece but is proud to see her colleagues take leadership for writing and directing the 2019 season. Alberti says, “That was my original intent for Ad Astra. . . to give young artists a platform to see their work performed.” Alberti, a high school senior, is currently applying to universities while re-blocking and directing the touring shows for the new venues. Between Uprising tour dates, Alberti will be performing as Maureen in the Saratoga Springs High School Drama Club production, The Lost Boy, by Ronald Gabriel Paolillo. Alberti quips, “I have never been able to resist Peter Pan. We even subconsciously wrote a Piotr who comes through the window into Uprising.”
Uprising will be performed at the Marie Maday Little Theatre at Canisius College, Lyons Hall, 2068 Main Street in Buffalo, NY on Saturday, October 6 at 7 PM. The event is free and open to the public.
Uprising will be performed at the Park Theater, 14 Park Street Glens Falls, NY on Saturday, November 3rd at 7 PM and Sunday, November 4th at 2 PM. Tickets may be purchased on-line at http://www.parktheatergf.com/.
For more information, follow Ad Astra Theatre Troupe at www.facebook.com/adastratroupe/.